PDF Hook Me: What to Include in Your First Chapter

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When a reader reads your first chapter, what should she find? There are four primary approaches for beginning a successful novel. Probably more, including some highly experimental ones, but these are the classic main four. Run your story idea through the filter of each of these and see if one of them feels right for your book.

This post is by Jeff Gerke, an award-winning editor of fiction and non-fiction and the author of six novels, five non-fiction books and the co-author or ghostwriter of numerous other books. Visit him at jeffgerke. For example, the film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl I often use film and television examples when I teach because they illustrate so perfectly the concepts of storytelling and are so universal begins with a prologue in which two of our main heroes first meet each other as children.


  • 1. Startle readers with the first line.?
  • Writing Chapter 2: Developing your Opening Hook | Now Novel.
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Mulan begins with a prologue that establishes the villain, the stakes and the ticking time bomb. The action is contemporaneous with the scene that introduces our heroine, but she is not onstage, and she does not become aware of the danger until deeper into the story. Ghostbusters begins with a prologue showing a nonprimary character who sees a ghost, which provides the need for the Ghostbusters to form.

In these cases, we see some of the ways a prologue-style opening can help your story. A prologue can establish why things are as they are in the world of your story, and why the character is the way he is when the main action begins. Here are 4 things to consider when researching literary agents.

Many fiction experts tell writers never to write a prologue, while others like me say prologues are great. The Anti-Prologuers argue that: 1 No one reads prologues; 2 Prologues are just dumping grounds for backstory; and 3 Prologues prevent you from getting to the main action of the story. The Pro-Prologuers Pro-Loguers?

1. A great opening paragraph

Can beginning with a prologue engage your reader? Can it be done so poorly that it disengages the reader? Also yes. In a hero action beginning, the hero is onstage, doing something active and interesting related to the launching of the core story it need not involve explosions and car chases, but it certainly can.

7 Key Elements To Include In Your First Chapter • Writer's Edit

Groundhog Day begins with Phil Connors onstage giving a sarcastic weather report. Juno begins with Juno walking through the neighborhood, drinking SunnyD, on her way to the corner store to buy a pregnancy test. Nearly every James Bond story begins with performing some amazing derring-do.

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What About Bob? The hero action beginning is the other most common way to begin a story. Read about them here. But remember to ask yourself how much of a stretch is it to show that action. And would a prologue or some other approach help you more than a hero action beginning? She is a speaker on author platforms, self-publishing, and marketing, and the sole-proprietor of Rookie Writers Solutions.

A Complete How To Guide for Rookie Writers is a practical, hands-on and user-friendly book to enable a rookie writer to learn how to get their newly created work produced and available to readers. Orange underground tunnel image courtesy Ebenezer Abebe and Unsplash. Train image courtesy Dan Roizer and Unsplash. The advice given above is good but all is written in the abstract. People reason by analogy. That means we need examples and stories to absorb information in useful form. Next time, please illustrate your points with examples.

Thank you very much Robin for the great advice.

How to Write a Novel Opening that Hooks Readers

I love the concept of having climatic arcs inside of each scene and I will try to use that more to keep my readers hooked! Your email address will not be published. Currently you have JavaScript disabled. In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page. Click here for instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your browser. Start Here! Share Pin 4. Buffer Comments The advice given above is good but all is written in the abstract. Glad this was helpful.

I appreciate the kind words. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published.


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    I only recommend tools, books and services that I either use or people I know personally. What aspects can you delay revealing to keep your reader interested? For example, when a melancholic, obsessive postal clerk is courting a young girl, how might her caretakers react?

    Marquez shows this in chapter 2 of his novel. Through the aunt character, Marquez foreshadows future chapters. The older aunt, wise to the way people in love behave, tells Fermina:. The aunt continues to be an advisor figure, telling Fermina when Florentino proposes:. Foreshadowing, hinting at what comes next, can be as simple as returning to the preoccupations of the first chapter, for example, and showing that they have not yet been resolved.

    By returning to the action of the first chapter — Florentino approaching the newly widowed Fermina Daza — Marquez shows the unfinished business of that scene. Struggling to develop your story? Includes detailed feedback from a writing coach as you progress. Here are tips for writing chapter 2, along with a second chapter checklist to make your story strong from chapter 2 onwards: 1.

    How to Write a Good Hook & Start Your Novel with a Bang!

    Once you have your first chapter, how do you write a strong chapter 2? In the above examples, you can see there is a clear through-line from chapter 1 to chapter 2. Decide where your second chapter should start Where should chapter 2 start? Begin chapter 2 with this complication for immediate suspense 3. Answer some unknowns and create new ones Plot is, essentially, the progression of old unknowns being answered and new or related unknowns emerging. For example, in the Marquez example above, unknowns we have from the inciting incident of chapter 1 include: How do Florentino and Fermina know each other?